Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Presentation Presumptions

A girl stood erect as her classmate smoothed out the shoulders of her tight long-sleeved shirt, before coaxing the collar straight. When that was over, she returned the favour to the classmate who was also dressed in a white pin-striped shirt, tight black skirt with a teasing slit revealing a slice of thigh in light stockings leading down to the stealthy stilettos. When they were finally done, the two girls mirrored each other and beamed, completely oblivious to the canteen crowd, or at least acting like they were oblivious, before turning to pick up their leather handbags, fluttering their mascara-marinated eyelashes at anyone still looking, and sashaying away, just like the way they do on Shenton Way.

Or the 3 loud-talking Ah Bengs swaggering down the corridor in what was meant to be smart and formal attire, yet still looking every bit Beng, even before a (Hokkien) word was uttered. Was it because their shirts were crimson, purple and violet respectively? Or the way they rolled their sleeves? Or how they walked? Or their hair? Or facial features? Or just the whole convergence of dressing and being that screams Beng?

When the Ah Bengs of Ngee Ann Poly start dressing like their Ah Beng sales assistant counterparts of Ngee Ann City, you know that it's the presentation period over here.

This period is the dreaded few weeks a few weeks before the also-dreaded exam period, and pockets of students all over the campus wear their Shenton Way best to face their already-familiar classmates and lecturers, yet be nerve-wreckingly nervous about it.

Others see it as an opportunity to do well, in any and every possible way. Like this friend of mine...

"I'm gonna wear low-cut and a short skirt tomorrow for the presentation."

"For what?" I asked casually, trying to control the urge to arch my eyebrows.

"So Mr C*** will give me more marks," she explained matter-of-factly.

"How many marks do they give you for your dressing? Or the lack of it?" I may have controlled my eyebrows successfully, but my sarcasm was slipping out.

"You know lah... Mr C***... he's that kind lor..." she replied with an air of resignation.

"And you're still going to reveal yourself to him?"

"Aiyah... if I can get more marks, why not?"

"You really think he'll give you more marks for that? I think you'll just end up giving him a free show."

"Then too bad lor..."

Knowing her, I think she just wanted an excuse to wear only the necessities, so I didn't bother to reason with her any further.

But it is my belief that in most cases, the audience does not really care so much about how you dress during your presentation (as long as it's not distracting), especially if your presentation is great. I'd always prefer an engaging presenter who happens to dress badly to an immaculately-dressed one who induces sleep. (I'm talking about male presenters; there may be exceptions for female presenters.)

So yesterday, I did a presentation wearing a T-shirt.

It turned out fine.

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